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ottoneu Hot Right Now: Ryan Ludwick and Jake Westbrook

It’s a whole new twist on ottoneu Hot Right Now! In the past, we’ve looked at the most-auctioned players out there, but right now, you have all decided to take it easy for a few days and the auctions are few and far between. Instead, using the sortable fantasy leader boards, we’ll look at two of the hottest players in the last 30 days.

Since July 20, Jake Westbrook has been the 20th most valuable pitcher in ottoneu points leagues, piling up 196 points in 41.1 IP. Over the same time frame, Ryan Ludwick has been even better, slotting in second among batters, with 260 points. And yet neither is owned in more than 2/3rds of ottoneu leagues.

Ludwick has hit 11 HR with a .365/.430/.802 triple slash (yes, that is an .802 SLG) in the last 30 days. As David Wiers pointed out a few days back, Ludwick should crack the 30 HR mark this year, and seeing as he is a player who has done this before, he could be not only a solid boost for the next few weeks but a potential keeper if he goes cheap in your auction.

Ludwick struggled after moving to Cincinnati last Summer, but his .343 OBP, .580 SLG and 25 HR this year are no joke. Even if you include that brutal finish to 2011, his line over the past 12 months (covering 429 PA) is .265/.341/.551 with 27 HR. Tell me you couldn’t use that in your outfield next year? His BABIP on the year is a reasonable .280, his K% is down, but in-line with career numbers. His HR/FB is high, but not out of line with what he did in 2008 with St. Louis. I wouldn’t expect him to repeat his 2012 in 2013, but there is no reason to think he can’t be a cheap power source the rest of this year and all of next.

Westbrook’s last 30 days have not been quite as impressive as the power display put on by Ludwick (seriously, .802 SLG??), but they haven’t been bad either. In 41.1 IP, he has a 2.61 ERA (3.75 xFIP), with 5.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, a slightly low .270 BABIP and a perfectly acceptable 75.2% LOB%. Like Ludwick, Westbrook’s season line has been quite good, despite a lack of recognition. His xFIP is 3.74, and his just-under-60% GB% is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the veteran.

But like the GB%, the issues with Westbrook are nothing new. He doesn’t strike out many (or really, any) guys, at 5.5 K/9 this year. The only differences between Westbrook this year and last are a bit better control (he’s cut down his BB/9 by more than 1) and a bit better luck on fly balls (his HR/FB has dropped from 11.4% to 9.7%). And when you look back at the past few years…well, it seems to me that his control will likely drop off and his HR rate will likely climb, and by next year, he’ll be back to the 4.00+ ERA pitcher we’ve come to know and love. And when that happens, you’ll be cutting Westbrook loose. But before that happens, the Cards face Houston three more times this year, have series at Dodger Stadium and Petco – there will be some opportunities to use a guy like Westbrook. He isn’t a world-beater, and he isn’t a sure thing, but if you need to take a gamble, he isn’t a bad bet.

For Ludwick, I’d be willing to make a $4 or $5 bid, maybe even more if I needed help badly, with an eye towards possibly holding him (depending on my roster make up) for 2013. Westbrook I am not spending that much. A $2, maybe $3 bid seems like plenty, and even then I am only spot-starting him if I really need the innings down the stretch.